Consumer Awareness is the need of the market. In privatisation, globalisation and liberalisation time, consumer awareness becomes most important. The reason is that producers only focus on profit maximisation and can go to any extent for the same.
Producers are so involved in achieving their targets that at times they forget about consumers’ interests and start exploiting them. Producers exploit consumers in various ways, such as by overcharging the product, under weighing, selling adulterated goods and giving inaccurate advertisements.
These factors make it necessary to make consumers aware of their rights to prevent them from being misled. Producers were required to adopt these guidelines to protect consumers and develop an ethical code of conduct for manufacturing.
Meaning of Consumer Awareness
Consumer Awareness is the act to ensure buyers and consumers are aware of their rights and have information about products, goods and services. So, it ensures that the buyer makes correct decisions and the right choices.
Consumers have the right to information, the right to choose and the right to safety. It helps to build trust, raise brand awareness and increase revenue. Consumer awareness includes two main concepts:
- Giving potential consumers knowledge about your brand and service.
- Checking how conscious customers are about their needs and wants.
Need and Importance of the Consumer Awareness
It is essential to make consumers aware of their rights and duties to avoid getting exploited. The following points explain the need and importance of consumer awareness:
- To maximise satisfaction: Every individual has a limited income with which he wants to purchase maximum goods and services. Hence, he must get appropriately measured goods and not be cheated in any way.
- To protect against exploitation: There are many ways consumers get exploited by producers and sellers, such as underweighting, taking prices higher than the market price, selling duplicate goods etc. So, it acts as a shield to consumers and protects them from exploitation.
- Controlling the consumption of harmful goods: Various goods available in the market causes harm to consumers, such as cigarettes, tobacco, liquor etc. Consumer awareness motivates people not to purchase these products and educate them about the damage these products can cause.
- Motivation for saving: Consumer Awareness prevents people from wasting their money by helping them make the right choice. Consumer awareness educates people not to get attracted by gifts, concessions, sales and use their money in the right way.
- Knowledge regarding the solution of problems: Consumers are at a higher risk of being cheated due to illiteracy, innocence and lack of information. Consumers should be aware of their rights to prevent them from being cheated by producers and sellers. So, it educates consumers about laws to provide solutions for their problems.
- Constructing a healthy society: By making consumers aware and rational, society becomes healthy and aware of their rights.
Rights of Consumer
Consumers are provided with the protection of law so that producers and sellers do not exploit them. A consumer has the following rights:
- Right to Safety: Producers need to obey the rules relating to the safety of consumers. In non-compliance with safety rules, consumers face a risk to their safety. The manufacturer should manufacture products keeping consumers’ safety in mind. Consumers can take help of the law.
- Right to choose: Consumers have the right to select goods and services of their choice. If a consumer is not willing to buy a particular product, the seller cannot compel him to purchase the product. In addition to this, the existence of cartels, oligopolies and monopolies in market forms become a hurdle in the Right to choose. If a seller pressurises a customer to purchase a certain product, the consumer can take legal action against him.
- Right to be informed: Consumers have the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods and services. It is essential to give the right information to consumers before they decide on purchasing.
- Right to information: The Government of India in 2005 passed the Right to Information Act. Under the Right to Information Act, consumers can get information about the activities of all government departments.
- Right to Redressal: In case a consumer has been exploited, or his rights are not taken care of, the consumer has the right to redressal. Under the right to redressal, a consumer can claim compensation if exploited. The Government of India has set up various courts at district levels to adjudicate this right.
- Right to be Heard: Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, consumers have the right to be heard and receive due compensation at appropriate forums. This right empowers consumers to raise their voices against any injustice fearlessly.
- Right to Consumer Education: Every Indian Citizen has the right to have education on matters relating to Consumer Protection. According to this right, consumers should have easily accessible materials to make purchasing decisions wisely.
Responsibility of the Consumer
With every right comes a responsibility. Consumers should be well aware of both; their rights and responsibilities. The consumer has the following responsibilities:
- Be Aware: Consumers should gather all information about a product or service and get updated about changes in the market.
- Beware: Beware of the quality and safety of products before making a purchasing decision.
- Think Independently: Consider your needs and wants and then make a decision.
- Speak out: Inform about your needs and expectations to government and producers.
- Be an ethical consumer: Never engage in dishonest practices that harm other consumers.
- Complain: In case of dissatisfaction with a product or service, reasonably inform the manufacturers.
- Share experience: inform other consumers about your experience with a particular product or service to help them make a purchasing decision.
- Respect the Environment: any decision by the consumer should not harm the environment. Consumers should avoid littering the environment and follow the 3R principle; reduce, reuse, recycle.
Consumer Awareness in India
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is said to be a milestone in the consumer protection movement in the country. The Consumer Protection Act 2019 brought a major change.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 covers all goods and services. It gives the consumers rights and responsibilities and establishes a three-tier redressal machine to hear consumer grievances. Apart from the Consumer Protection Act, there are several other acts such as:
- The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016
- The Legal Science Act 2009
- The Essential Commodities Act, 1955
- The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
- The Indian Contract Act, 1872
- The Sale of Goods Act, 1930
- Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954
The Government of India has established various helplines at both state and national levels. These helplines provide support to consumers 24*7. They assist the soppers by giving them recommendations and also hearing their complaints. The helpline listens to almost 40,000 complaints every month.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism and Government Campaign
Grievance Against Misleading Advertisement
To deal with misleading advertisements, the Government of India has launched the portal GAMA (Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements) for registering complaints relating to advertisements online.
Jago Grahak Jago
Jago Grahak Jago is a campaign started by the Department of Consumer Affairs under the Ministry of Consumer and Public Distributions by the Government of India in the year 2005. It is, to date, the most successful campaign by the Government of India that shields consumers against marketing malpractices and redress consumer complaints. Jago Grahak Jago means to wake up consumers, and the Government has launched this scheme through various channels such as:
- Media Advertisements
- Video Campaign
- Audio Campaigns
Rise of Consumer Awareness
In the 21st century, the Government emphasised economic development and the nation’s rise, for which consumer awareness is essential. However, even after implementing the Consumer Protection Act, only 20% of consumers are fully aware of their rights, and about 42% of the population have heard about consumer rights.
Without consumer satisfaction, economic growth cannot be achieved. The current Consumer Protection Act, 2019, can prove to be very helpful in achieving the goal of Consumer Protection with a special focus on Consumer Awareness.
The most important new addition included in the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, is that the complaint can get filed even where the consumer resided. Otherwise, the producer or manufacturer would use the tactic known as SLAPP, which means that the consumer even wants to file suits but does not go ahead because of many factors, which mainly is that the place of the suit is not in the reach of the consumer.
The country’s economy is largely affected by the consumers. As the central point of economic activity is the consumer. Consumer awareness means being aware of the laws, redressal mechanism and consumer rights. The rights include the right to protection of health and safety from goods and services. There are other rights provided in the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The consumer must be aware of their rights and duties. It would help the customer by protecting them from exploitation.
What are the rights of the Customer?
Following are the rights of the customer:
- Right to choose
- Right to safety
- Right to be informed
- Right to information
- Right to redressal
- Right to be heard
- Right to consumer education
What is Consumer Awareness?
Consumer Awareness is the process of making consumers aware of their rights and duties.
The government has launched which portal to register complaints and redressal?
The Government launches grievances Against Misleading Advertisements portal to register the complaints online.
Which campaigns were launched by the Government of India for consumer awareness?
The Government launches the most famous campaign for Consumer Awareness is JAGO GRAHAK JAGO.